Last Updated: 13th August 2019

Department of Health announcement on scientific advances in healthcare

Today the Department of Health has announced the use of genome sequencing to diagnose two families with rare diseases along with other milestones in medical innovation.

Patients in the NHS are now receiving personalised care based on their DNA code. Two families have been diagnosed with rare conditions as part of a project at Newcastle Hospitals and University that used an analysis of their genomes – the complete set of people’s genes – to properly understand the health issues they are experiencing. They will now receive effective, personalised treatment, as well as helping prevent future generations who share their DNA from suffering a life of uncertainty about similar symptoms.

In other milestones, the building of two proton beam therapy cancer treatment centres at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester will start this summer. Varian Medical Systems has been named as the equipment supplier for both, with Bouygues UK as the building contractor for UCLH and Interserve Construction Ltd at the Christie.

The government has invested £250 million in the facilities to give NHS patients a highly-targeted type of radiotherapy that can treat hard-to-reach cancers without causing damage to surrounding tissue or other side effects. The centres are expected to open for patients in 2018.